Noble's debut novel has already achieved success in her native Great Britain and is sure to delight readers everywhere. Susan, Polly, Clare, Nicole and Harriet are five women whose common bond is their reading group, which meets once a month. Their different backgrounds give each woman a unique perspective when critiquing the various novels.

The women develop a friendship of sorts, supporting Susan when her mother becomes critically ill and offering Polly a helping hand when her daughter, Cressida, becomes pregnant. But Cressida keeps a secret from her mother, and when Polly discovers the truth about Cressida's pregnancy, the ramifications threaten the stability of the fragile friendships between members of the group.

Noble has written a truly grown-up novel that will appeal to fans of women's fiction. There is a sense of reality in the everyday trials experienced by the women, and the author creatively draws parallels between events in the novels and the happenings in the lives of the women reading them. The Reading Group is a breath of fresh air in the genre of women's fiction. (Jan., 480 pp., $14.95)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick